Fivefold Activities and Omkara Mantra (Shiva Purana)

Om Mantra

The Evanescence of Shiva after expounding the Fivefold duties and the Omkara or Om (ॐ) mantra to Brahma and Vishnu.

Brahma and Vishnu said: O Lord, please tell us the characteristic feature of the five-fold duties beginning with creation.

Shiva said: I shall tell you the great secret of the five-fold duties, out of compassion for you. O Brahma and Vishnu, the permanent cycle of the five-fold duties consists of creation, maintenance, annihilation, concealment, and blessing. Sarga is the creation of the world; Sthiti is its maintenance; Samhara is the annihilation; Tirobhava is the removal and concealment Liberation (from the cycle of birth and death) is a blessing. These five are my activities but are carried on by others silently as in the case of the statue at the Portal.

The first four activities concern the evolution of the world and the fifth one is the cause of salvation. All these constitute my prerogatives. These activities are observed in the five elements by devotees—Sarga (creation) in the Earth, Sthiti (maintenance) in the waters, Samhara (annihilation) in the fire, Tirobhava (concealment) in the wind, and Anugraha (liberation, the blessed state) in the firmament. Everything is created by the Earth; everything flourishes by virtue of the waters; everything is urged by the fire, everything is removed by the wind and everything is blessed by the firmament. Thus intelligent men must know the same.

In order to look after these five-fold activities, I have five faces, four in the four quarters and the fifth in the middle. O sons, in view of your austerities you two have received the first two activities:—creation and maintenance. You have gratified me and are therefore blessed. Similarly, the other two activities (annihilation and concealment) have been assigned to Rudra and Mahesa.

The fifth one of Anugraha (liberation) cannot be taken up by any other. All this previous arrangement has been forgotten by both of you due to the lapse of time, not so by Rudra and Mahesa. I have assigned them my equality in form, dress, activity, vehicle, seat, weapons, etc. Oh, dear sons, your delusion was the result of your not meditating upon me. If you had retained my knowledge you would not have imbibed this false pride of being Mahesa yourselves. Hence, hereafter, both of you shall start reciting the mantra “Om” (ॐ) to acquire knowledge of me. It shall quell your false pride as well. I have taught this great auspicious mantra. Omkara came out of my mouth. Originally it indicated me. It is the indicator and I am the indicated. This mantra is identical to mine. The repetition of this mantra is verily my repeated remembrance.

The syllable “A” came first from the northern face; the syllable “U” from the west; the syllable “M” from the southern and the Bindu (dot ) from the eastern face. The Nada (mystical sound) came from the middle face. Thus the complete set cropped up in a five-fold form. Then all of them united in the syllable of “Om’”(ॐ). The two sets of created beings—Nama (name) and Rupa (form) are pervaded by this mantra. It indicates Shiva and Shakti. From this also is born the five-syllabled mantra (Namaha Shivaya). It indicates all knowledge. The syllables “NA” etc. follow the order of the syllables “A” etc. From the five-syllabled mantra, the five mothers were born. The Siromantra is born of that. The three-footed Gayatri also came out of the four faces. The entire set of Vedas and crores of mantras were born of that.

Different things are achieved through different mantras but everything is achieved through Omkara (Om) alone. By this root mantra, the very enjoyment, as well as salvation, is achieved. All the royal mantras are auspicious and directly accord enjoyment.

Nandikesvara said: The lord in the company of his consort Ambika, assumed the role of the preceptor for both of them. He screened them and placed his lotus-like hand on their heads as they fared the north and slowly taught them the great mantra. The two disciples received the mantra by repealing it thrice, along with the requisite Yantra and Tantra duly expounded. By way of fees, the disciples dedicated themselves. Thereafter standing near him with hands clasped in reverence they addressed the lord, the preceptor of the universe.

Brahma and Vishnu said: (The prayer):—

  • Obeisance to Thee of the bodiless form.
  • Obeisance to Thee of the formless luster.
  • Obeisance to Thee the lord of everything.
  • Obeisance to Thee the soul of everything or of the embodied form.
  • Obeisance to Thee stated by the Pranava.
  • Obeisance to Thee having Pranava as Thy symbol.
  • Obeisance to Thee the author of creation etc.
  • Obeisance to Thee of five faces.
  • Obeisance to Thee identical with Pancabrahma form.
  • Obeisance to Thee of five-fold functions.
  • Obeisance to Thee the Atman, the Brahman, of endless attributes and power.
  • Obeisance to Shiva the preceptor possessed of both embodied and bodiless forms.
  • After eulogizing the preceptor in verses Brahma and Vishnu bowed to him.

The Recital of OM Mantra or Omkara

Om Mantra

Shiva said: O dear sons, the truthful extract of everything has been narrated to you with the demonstration. You shall recite as directed by the Goddess this Om mantra which is identical to me. Your knowledge shall be stabilized. Permanent fortune shall stand by you. On Chaturdasi day and on the day with Ardra star, the recital of this mantra will give you everlasting efficacy.

The recital of this mantra at the time when the transit of the sun is in the Ardra star is million-fold efficacious. In the context of worship, Homa, and Tarpana, the last quarter of the star Mrgasiras and the first quarter of Punarvasu must always be considered on par with Ardra. The Vision is to be had at early dawn and within three muhurtas (two hours twenty-four minutes) thereafter. 

Chaturdasi is to be taken when it continues up to midnight. If it is only up to the early part of the night and joined with another thereafter, it is also recommended. Although I consider the phallic and the embodied form to be equal, the phallic form is excellent for those who worship. Hence for those who seek salvation, the latter is preferable to the former.

The others too shall install the phallic form with Omkara (ॐ) mantra and the embodied form with the five-syllabled mantra, with excellent articles of worship and adore with due homage. It will be easy for them to attain my region. Having thus instructed His disciples’ Shiva vanished there.

– Shiva Purana: Vidyesvara Samhita, Chapter 10